Amendment to Design Professional Anti-Indemnity Statute

In the recently concluded 2015 session, the Texas Legislature amended the anti-indemnity statute pertaining to engineers and architects performing work for certain types of governmental entities. The amendment prohibits a governmental entity from requiring an engineer or architect to defend it for claims based in whole or in part on the fault, breach or negligence of the governmental entity. The purpose of the amendment is to prevent governmental entities from requiring architects and engineers to muster a defense that otherwise falls outside of their professional liability insurance policies. The impacted governmental entities include municipalities, counties, school districts, conservation or reclamation districts, hospital districts or other political subdivisions of the state. The Governor signed the Bill on June 17, 2015 and the amended statute is effective September 1, 2015. The modified anti-indemnity provision, Texas Local Government Code section 271.904, splits out an architect’s and engineer’s indemnification and defense obligations, allows a governmental entity to seek recovery of attorney’s fees in proportion to the design professional’s liability, and imposes a statutory standard or care for design

Arbitrator Fails to Fully Disclose Potential Conflicts

In determining that an arbitrator may be deposed after issuing his award, the Dallas Court of Appeals examined the standards for allowing post-award discovery to examine “evident partiality.” It also examined the evidentiary value of unsworn statements made by attorneys in court. In Fatima Rodas v. La Madeleine of Texas, Inc., Cause No. 05-14-00054-CV, an employee of La Madeleine, Rodas, sued La Madeleine for injuries she sustained on the job. La Madeleine compelled arbitration of the dispute. The arbitrator issued a take nothing award against Rodas. After the award was issued, Rodas filed a motion to vacate, arguing the arbitrator failed to disclose another arbitration he was presiding over and in which La Madeleine’s counsel was representing one of the parties. Rodas sought to depose the arbitrator about the undisclosed contact, but La Madeleine and the arbitrator opposed the discovery. During hearings on whether Rodas could depose the arbitrator, the arbitrator’s attorney disclosed that La Madeleine’s attorneys had two other arbitrations, not just one, with the arbitrator and provided inconsistent information about the